I’m a bicycle freak. I love riding bicycles, just for the fun of it. Even if I have nowhere to go, I just ride around in circles. Most of the people in my neighbourhood simply know me as the girl that rides the big black bicycle. Most of the guys call me ‘Rider’. Not to blow my own trumpet but I’m really good at it. I wasn’t always this good though. It took me a very long time to be able to even sit on a bicycle correctly. This brings me to my first lesson;
Lesson number one;
It is never too late to learn to do something new, acquire a new skill or do something you have always wanted to do but never got round to. Growing up, I liked bicycles but I never owned one. I always wanted to learn to ride but I never got the chance to. Whenever I got a bike, I just used one leg to push the bike around and never put the other foot on the pedal because I was scared I would fall down. After I wrote my B.E.C.E however, I was determined to learn. So I got someone’s bicycle and decided to teach myself.
Lesson number two;
It’s never going to be easy, but that’s what makes it worth it. The bicycle I got had no brakes and riding it was no joke. I used to push it up a slope and then get on and let it just go down. I fell many times. I got hurt countless times but that’s the thing. When you get scars from doing something by yourself, you feel some amount of pride when you say it. Till date, I prefer riding very fast to riding slowly thanks to that bicycle. It wasn’t a very good bicycle but it helped me learn. That’s lesson number three.
Lesson number three;
You’re not always going to have the best resources but if you really want to do something, that wouldn’t deter you. I wanted to learn but all I had was a bike that had a rusted chain and no brakes. I didn’t tell myself I couldn’t learn with that. I made use of what I had to the best of my ability and now I can ride a bicycle very well. So the excuse of I didn’t have the means to is a lame one. There is always a means. Sometimes, you just refuse to see it because you think it’s going to be hard. The fact that it’s not easy should let you know the end result is going to be awesome.
Lesson number four;
Learn to face your fear because that’s the only way you’re going to overcome it. I never put my second foot on the pedal because I was scared I was going to fall off the bike. So whenever I got a bicycle, I leaned against something and pedaled backwards because that meant the bicycle would not move forward. Until I learned to put my other foot on the pedal, I never learnt to ride a bicycle. Most of the times, the only thing limiting you is your fear. You’re scared you are going to fail. You keep saying, “What if I fail?” Today I ask you, “What if you don’t fail?” I was always scared I’d fall. I did fall but then I learnt to not do what I was doing the way I was doing it. When you fail you have simply discovered a method that does not work. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. You see, what we fail to realise is this; failure makes us wiser. Every time you make a mistake, you are exposed to a harsh reality. It’s not pretty but it’s enlightening. You gain a new sense of things. So hey, put your other foot on the pedal. You might fall, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is you push yourself right back up.
Lesson number five;
NEVER get cocky. No matter how excellent you are at a certain skill, you’re not invincible. I’m a very good bicycle rider. I can let go of one or both handlebars even on a rough road and still swerve potholes. When I set my mind to it, I can raise any of my tires whilst on the bike. I ride at breakneck speed without holding my handlebars. The point I’m making is I’m exceptionally good at it. It got to my head. I felt invincible on the bicycle. I got so reckless one day I was riding with just one hand on the handlebars whilst drinking some juice. It was a very rocky road with lots of potholes. As if that wasn’t enough, right in front of a pothole, I lifted the hand I had on the handlebar to greet a friend. Long story short, I lost all the skin on my left elbow and on my right knee to the road. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Even on hot days, I had to wear a blazer to conceal the bandages on my arm. I went through all this because I became complacent. Sometimes failure is not a result of wrong planning or not enough resources. Failure is a result of complacency sometimes. We feel we know and therefore we don’t listen to what anyone tells us even when we know what they’re saying is right. That is the most painful way to fail. Knowing that you could have succeeded had you only listened is a very painful experience. I’ve been there. I learnt my lesson the hard way. You don’t have to go through the same.
Lesson number six;
You have to do things out of your comfort zone sometimes, especially when a lot is at stake. I learnt to ride a bicycle without my mother’s knowledge. She would have had my hide if she had known. She was extremely scared I would get hurt because most of the drivers in my neighbourhood are very reckless. I’ve witnessed it first-hand. However, one day, she needed to make an announcement at a radio station quite urgently. The location of the station is such that to get there, you would have to charter a taxi. There is no straight car to the place. Prior to that, someone had given me my bicycle as a gift. She had forbidden me to ride the bicycle far from the house. At that moment however, she realized I was her only hope. Though I could see she was dying inside, she asked me to send the message for her. I did it and I came back home safe. Only then did she realise that my safety on the road depended largely on me. Sure, there would be some drivers whose recklessness could affect me but I could avoid it most of the time if I was careful. She had to let me out of the cocoon she had created. She didn’t know it but her insistence that I didn’t ride the bicycle outside the house made me want to ride the bicycle outside the house. So, when she went to work, I rode to the roadside. I’m not encouraging you to be disobedient. There’s a reason the rules are there. The point however is that setting too many restrictions sometimes tends to have the opposite effect.
Humans are curious beings and he’ll want to find out the exact reason why you say he should not do what you said he shouldn’t do so he’d go right ahead and do it. True, you might not be comfortable with allowing certain things to happen but as long as it’s not the wrong thing to do, let the person make his own mistakes so he can learn from them. Lessons learnt on one’s own make a longer lasting impression than lessons taught to a person.
Lesson number seven;
To get great results, you have to work greatly. There are six gears on my bicycle. The toughest to ride in is the sixth gear. Pedaling becomes very hard especially if you are riding on undulating land. It however is also the gear in which the bike speeds the most. So to achieve a very high level of speed, I’d have to ride in the sixth gear for a while. It’s very hard sometimes but I love to speed so I go through it. It’s the same with life. If you want to achieve extraordinary results, stop doing things ordinarily. It’s never going to be easy. If good things came easy, we would never appreciate them. So go through the pain and toil now. Pedal in the sixth gear. When your bike starts speeding, you would be glad you did.
Lesson number eight;
Whether you like it or not, you have to change sometimes in order to adapt to the changes going on around you. The terrain you are riding on dictates the gear in which you ride. Riding in one gear is possible but it would be very grueling and highly unnecessary. I have ridden for so long changing my gears has become something I do unconsciously. It has become a part of me. You have to learn to become an adaptive being. No matter your environment, you should be able to survive. However, be careful that you do not change for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, I simply change my bike gears for the reason that I feel too lazy to pedal. Even though there are no set rules for changing the gears on your bicycle, I feel laziness should not become habitual. You see, when you begin to change for all the wrong reasons, like to fit in or just so you can be accepted, it becomes a habit. In the long run, you lose your self-identity. You forget who you really are outside of that environment. You are no longer you but a reflection of other people’s behaviours and actions. So learn to adapt or to change for the right reasons and not merely to fit in.
I’ve learned a lot of things from riding a bicycle but most important of all to me is this; never overwork yourself. You’re digging your grave earlier than it should be dug. When you’re tired, rest. Continue when you feel refreshed. You’re more productive with a rested mind and body.
I hope my mishaps and misfortunes on a bicycle have taught you a thing or two about life. Remember to keep doing you because you is beautiful. Have a great day.